Archive for the midgette Category

Fleming-Bocelli ticket in 2008

Posted in domingo, fleming, gay gay gay gay gay, gelb, midgette, our own on January 14, 2008 by lacieca

The Washington National Opera has announced their 2008-2009 season will feature headliners Renée Fleming and Andrea Bocelli under the artistic direction of Plácido Domingo. According to an article by Our Own Anne Midgette in today’s Washington Post, The Beautiful Voice will grace a new production of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia, an opera that has deep personal significance for the diva. Directing the opera will be “John Pascoe, a friend of Fleming’s.” Pascoe designed the leather jerkin Erwin Schrott sported in last season’s Don Giovanni at WNO, so his credentials as an FOF are already well-established.

Alas, Fleming and Bocelli will not actually share a performance at WNO, since his vocal contribution will be limited to a pair of performances of Rossini’s “Petite Messe Solennelle.”

Family values will be honored this season as Domingo’s wife Marta will direct La traviata and Keri-Lynn Wilson (Mrs. Peter Gelb) will conduct Turandot.

Who’s the missing star?

Posted in bel canto, caballe, critic, fleming, met, midgette, nyt, scotto, voigt on November 14, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca was just wondering about something yesterday on opera-l, and doggone if Anne Midgette wasn’t wondering about the same thing today in the New York Times. (That woman haunts my dreams, I tell you. It’s like she’s inside my head. Now, where was I? Oh, yes…) The point that dear Anne and I (among others) have mulling is this:

There was a time when Norma was considered a rarity or at least an opera that could be revived only when a very special prima donna was available and willing. The first Met Norma, for example, was Lilli Lehmann, the house’s biggest female star of that era. Even given Lehmann’s réclame, her appearance as Norma was considered by at least one critic (W. J. Henderson in Times) to be a sort of stunt:

The opera was chosen by Fräu Lehmann for her benefit, and from a financial point of view her selection was a very wise one . . . . From an artistic point of view the choice does not seem to be so commendable. There is no artistic reason why Lilli Lehmann should present herself to the New York public as a colorature singer. She may have been actuated by a not unnatural desire to display her versatility, but to get up a performance of Bellini’s “Norma” for her benefit savors rather of self-esteem than of a strong devotion to honest art . . . . She demonstrated that her voice possessed far more flexibility and that she had a greater command of the pure ornamentation of signing that anyone suspected … It must be said, however, that Fräu Lehmann took many of the elaborate ornamental passages at a very moderate tempo and sang them with very evident labor, thus depriving them of much of that brilliancy which the smooth, mellow, pliable Italian voices impart to them. Fiorituri without brilliancy have no “raison d’ étre,” and no Italian diva of standing would have received half the applause that Fräu Lehmann did for singing these passages as she did. The audience was excited by astonishment at the fact that she could do it at all.

Well, that was a longer pullquote than La Cieca originally intended to use, but, goodness, that is such excellent critical writing, isn’t it? Anyway, back to the argument. Lehmann, Rosa Ponselle, Gina Cigna, Zinka Milanov and of course Maria Callas were all big established stars when they took on Norma at the Met. So were Joan Sutherland and Montserrat Caballé. If Shirley Verrett, Renata Scotto and Jane Eaglen received mixed reviews for their Met performances of the opera, it wasn’t because of lack of star power or clout — they were all extremely important names on the Met roster at the time of their casting.

Then there are performances from the likes of Adelaide Negri and Marisa Galvany — (covers who had to go on) and Rita Hunter, one of the many jumpers-in for Caballé. The presence of Hasmik Papian at the beginning of this year’s run of Norma should be understood in the same spirit, i.e., a late-in-the-game substitution.

Papian is going on for Maria Guleghina, who was pulled out of the beginning of the Norma run to perform the new production of Macbeth. So the question is, who ever dreamed up the notion of Guleghina singing Norma at the Met? True, she won a big popular success here with Abigaille back in 2001 and she more or less owned the role of Tosca at the house for about five years. But nothing in those performances (or, to be frank, her few attempts at the Bellini opera elsewhere) really shouts “this woman must do Norma at the Met.” So why would a revival of Norma be put in the pipeline five years ago for a singer who neither then nor now promises to display anything special in the role?

Which is why La Cieca poses the question: was this revival of Norma originally planned for a different singer? And if so, who? Deborah Voigt? Violeta Urmana? Renée Fleming?

Sob sister scoop!

Posted in critic, la cieca ci guarda la cieca ci vede, midgette on October 27, 2007 by lacieca

Adept arbiter Anne Midgette has announced her farewell to The New York Times, moving on up to the Washington Post where she will reign as interim chief critic beginning January 1. The WaPo‘s current chief critic, Tim Page, is off to teach a semester at USC and, who knows, may extend his stay in academe to something more lasting. We here at parterre.com will miss la Midgette’s pungent and always well-supported critiques of New York performances, and we look forward to her take on the WNO.

Typography as destiny

Posted in critic, midgette, nyt on March 27, 2007 by lacieca

Don’t get La Cieca wrong: the whole “Opera and Technology” panel last Friday was fascinating. But probably the most interesting bit of information shared all night was done after the formalities were ended. Anne Midgette got to talking with JJ and a few others about the layout style of the New York Times Arts section, and La Cieca has to admit she never realized just how intricate the whole thing is.

Basically there are two kinds of pieces that run in the Arts section: reporting and opinion. “Opinion” includes both reviews and what back in my sob sister days we used to call “think” pieces. It turns out the Times style decrees a number of differences in how these two types of writing are set up.

“Reporting” pieces (like the one on the left, below) have a plain serif headline, a traditional byline directly below the hed, then a series of paragraphs with an even right margin. “Opinion” pieces (right) feature an italic headline, an inset byline without the word “by” and subhead “Music Review.” Paragraphs have a ragged right margin.

The meaning of all this? Maybe the Times is saying, “This review is only someone’s opinion, so it doesn’t need justification.”

Semi-ubiquitous

Posted in blog, camp, critic, diva, drag, filth, fleming, gay gay gay gay gay, gcn, la cieca ci guarda la cieca ci vede, maury d'annato, met, midgette, nyco, nyt, our own, parody, podcast, review, voigt, youtube on March 24, 2007 by lacieca

Our editor JJ‘s busy week included a review of the Met’s Aegyptische Helena in Gay City News, and that panel La Cieca has been yammering about all week. As his presentation on the topic “Opera and Technology,” JJ introduced this little documentary about your own La Cieca.

Mary Dunleavy joins in the fun

Posted in 2008, blog, camp, critic, diva, filth, gay, jj, met, midgette, nyco, nyt, our own, podcast, youtube on March 23, 2007 by lacieca

La Cieca has just been informed that soprano Mary Dunleavy will participate in tonight’s panel discussion “Opera and Technology” at The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University. No word on whether La Dunleavy replaces or supplements the previously announced Lucy Shelton. Our own JJ will be there of course, along with a veritable constellation of opera pundits: Elena Park, Editorial and Creative Content, The Metropolitan Opera; Beth Greenberg, stage director, New York City Opera; Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and writer; and Anne Midgette, critic, The New York Times. That’s tonight at 7:30 PM, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue (between 116th and 118th Streets), second floor.

Tech talk

Posted in jj, met, midgette, nyco, our own on March 11, 2007 by lacieca

Here are more details on the panel discussion “On Opera and Technology,” to be held at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue (between 116th and 118th Streets) on March 23. The exact location is the teatro of the Academy (2nd floor,) from 7.30-9.30pm, and the participants, besides our own JJ, will include Lucy Shelton, soprano; Elena Park, Editorial and Creative Content, The Metropolitan Opera; Beth Greenberg, stage director, New York City Opera; Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and writer; and Anne Midgette, critic, The New York Times.